By Micah Sperling
The University of Colorado at Boulder football team will feature true freshman Will Oliver ’11 as their starting kicker for this season.
After only two days in training camp, Oliver was named the starter for the Buffaloes over sophomore Justin Castor. On his first day, Oliver made 25 of 27 field goals, catching the attention of coach Jon Embree. On his second, he made 10 kicks in a row, including what Embree called a “money ball” in front of the entire team.
“He’s had two very good days,” Embree said at a season-opening press conference. “He was ready; he was prepared.”
“All I knew going in was that there was a really good kicker a year older than me,” Oliver said. “I also knew that he was competitive and wanted the job just as badly.”
In Oliver’s high school career, he made 18 of 23 field goals and all 50 of his extra-point attempts.
“The biggest thing with kicking is forgetting — having a short memory so you can get back on the field and feel you’re as good as you always were,” Oliver said. “Most kickers have done this a long time, especially when you get to the college level. You wouldn’t be here if you’re not good. You have to just go back to your normal self and find your own rhythm.”
Oliver said he was “a little nervous” but did not let nerves affect his preparations for the opening game against Hawaii last Saturday.
Although Embree named Oliver the starter, Oliver said he needs to keep working hard to keep his job.
“I’ve realized that all that being a starter means is that I have something to lose,” Oliver said. “I have to keep working not only to keep the job, but to secure it for now and the future.”
“He seems accurate from 46-48 yards. 50-plus will be a stretch,” Embree said. “I guess I’ll just have to have the offensive coordinator get us closer.”
Since the departure of Mason Crosby for the Green Bay Packers in 2006, Colorado has suffered from placekicking problems. Embree hopes Oliver can be as unflappable as Crosby was, although Oliver’s leg strength does not compare to that of the Packers starter.
Oliver, however, said he is confident in his ability and feels at home in Boulder.
“It gets no better than this,” he said. “Just look around, you’ve got mountains, clean air, it’s all just wonderful.”